Monday, October 20, 2014

Finger Lakes Riesling: Sheldrake Point

Few wine regions know how to get a Twitter conversation going like New York's Finger Lakes AVA.  The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance recently took to social media to celebrate the launch of the 2013 vintage of Finger Lakes Rieslings.  The group claims as their own the title of, "North America's premier cool-climate wine growing region."  It's probable that only other North American wine growing regions would offer an argument.  Even so, it would just be sour grapes.

The Finger Lakes region is south of Lake Ontario, in central New York.  The glacier-sculpted lakes, great microclimates and talented winemakers make a wide variety of vitis vinifera wines, but the FLX is best known for its Rieslings.

I always like to point out that the International Riesling Foundation has developed a scale, the IRF "Riesling Taste Profile," to help consumers determine which of the many different styles of Riesling is in the bottle.  It is a methodology that Syrah producers would be wise to employ.  You will find the Riesling Taste Profile on most bottles of Riesling produced in the Finger Lakes.  I thought it was on all FLX bottlings, but through Twitter, @50StatesOfWine and @SandyWasserman pointed out to me that their bottles did not feature the scale.

Sheldrake Point 2013 Dry Riesling

Sheldrake Point Vineyards has been producing wine for over 15 years using grapes grown on their 44-acre vineyard on Cayuga Lake.  The site benefits from low elevation and a lakeside location.  Cayuga Lake is 600 feet deep and never freezes.  The warm and cool waters circulate to provide a tempering influence on the microclimate.  This makes the vineyard about 10 degrees warmer in the winter and slightly cooler in summer than other locations.

Every winery likes a good back story, and this one is blessed with a good one.  It was an abandoned dairy farm when discovered and pressed into a much nobler service, delivering much more interesting beverages.

Winemaker Dave Breeden and vineyard manager  Dave Weimann are the milkmen here, delivering a Riesling that tips the Ries-O-Meter to "dry."  It has only 0.7% residual sugar and hits a low 11.4% abv, so it's a pretty lean machine.  1,292 cases were produced.

The '13 Sheldrake Point Dry Riesling  has a pale greenish tint in the glass and gives a fruity nose.  A little peach, a little apricot, a little pineapple, and the aromas are pleasing.  Taking a sip, the mouthfeel is lush.  The flavors of peach and apple are laced with a gorgeous tinge of lemon zest and earth.  Acidity comes in on the mid-palate and stays for the long finish.  Minerals shoot through it all and give a crisp and refreshing experience.

Pairing suggestions came from @WineHarlots, "Enjoying @SheldrakePoint Dry Riesling. The bright citrus notes make me long to pair it with ceviche," and @ArtPredator thought it was, "a perfect match for Indian summer sunset picnic. Pairs well with ocean air!"  @WineCompass liked the "soft peach and lemon aroma, leads to citrus cream, minerals, and nice acids."  I liked the tropical notes, and I was not alone.  @dallaswinechick and @GrapeBelt tweeted, "Those tropical notes are rising as the wine warms and opens a bit."

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